Chapter 8

Chapter 8:
Personal Redemptions and Lessons Learned the Hard Way


Gerard was barely able to maintain his outward composure as he strode into the waiting combat room, smiling slightly. He'd been a little disturbed when he learned that his fourth ranked roommate had actually been the incredibly beautiful demoness wandering around during the combat rankings the previous week. At least now the carefully groomed blond could understand why Kyle had been so reluctant to let on to his ability. I would be embarrassed too if I had to turn into a woman in order to fight. He shook himself a bit at the thought and turned his focus back to his opponent. Kyle had ended up doing Gerard a huge favor in not challenging for a higher rank this week, it would allow him to make his way all the way into the second place spot where he would only have to wait the single extra week before he could get his rematch with the freakishly strong bitch that had beaten him in the fifth round of the rankings.

The coaches had made the recordings of all the matches available for the students to study at the end of each Gym period, and Gerard was confident that in spite of her obviously excellent training, this girl's powers were simply not sufficient to match his own. Finally his opponent arrived, he noted immediately that she was not wearing the heavy knuckle guards that she had sported in all of her fights against physically enhanced opponents. He supposed it made sense, if she could manage to get to him she would have a substantial advantage with her physical abilities, and the extra weight of the weapon would only slow her down against an opponent where she didn't need the hitting power.

As both students stood across from each other neither spoke. His opponent wore an expression of intense concentration as the time display on the wall began beeping the ten second countdown to the start of their match. At five seconds the girl became nearly transparent as he expected. As the buzzer sounded to indicate the match had begun Gerard immediately began a slow, deliberate stalk towards his opponent.I need to get within thirty feet to hit her hard enough to put her down, just need to make sure she doesn't pull any tricks on the way in. The air in front of him shimmered and warped his view as the incredibly dense barrier he projected in front of himself compressed the air and refracted the light strangely.

Instead of initiating the strange light distortions he had seen in her previous fights and charging forward, his opponent seemed to study his approach before fading even further before his eyes, vanishing completely. Gerard stopped immediately. It had not occurred to him that the girl could manage complete invisibility. Definitely a solid ace for her to keep up her sleeve for after the initial matches. His estimation of his opponent rose slightly, but as he simply gathered a little more of his own energy and spread his barrier to surround himself from all sides he knew it was merely a delaying tactic.

Suddenly the thud of a boot pushing heavily into the floor directly behind him swung his attention around and he blasted out with all the force he dared use lest he risk finding himself disqualified for a lethal attack. He saw the single boot that had just landed on the floor fly away at incredible speed to impact the far wall at the same time he felt a slender but muscular arm slip around his throat and lock in place.


Panicking Gerard responded the only way he could think of, he attempted to again blast his opponent away from him with another barrier. However her hold on his neck was solid, and as she was propelled back he felt something crack and the world went blurry. From somewhere a long way off he thought he could hear someone screaming something but he couldn't tell what it was. Then everything just faded out of his view.




Scott found himself seriously questioning his own sanity as he faced the opponent he had elected to challenge to improve his rank during the second week in the HCP. He might have opted to wait out the first week without issuing a challenge if he had known the huge black woman would end up being assigned to his group for the Ethics research project.

"Hi Scott, want to see if Cat and Susan are done after this and go through the files the Dean gave us?"

Scott sighed a little bit at his opponent's incredibly cheerful disposition. Lord, I cannot believe you found a way to make fighting someone from my research team MORE awkward than her hating me. Congratulations, and I am sorry I ever doubted you. Aloud he said, "I was planning on getting a celebration/commiseration lunch with my roommates after this. We could probably drag everyone else along for the ride though."

Tasha nodded her assent as the buzzer went off to signal their match had begun. Still smiling cheerfully the huge woman charged her much smaller male opponent with a terrifying disregard for defense. Lord she looks like the happiest berserker in the world. Scott gathered the various metal rings into their traditional arcs around his arms and legs as the distance closed quickly. It was time to stop kicking himself for not seeing a solution and take Erin's advice on something he SHOULD have tried last week.

As Tasha neared striking distance one of the dense metal rings circling Scott's lead leg seemed to fling itself into her charging path of it's own accord, catching her leg and causing her to trip heavily towards him. Scott narrowly managed to avoid having the large woman tumble straight through him, though one of her hands caught on the black uniform and dragged him heavily to the floor with her.

Scott reacted quickly, and another of the circling bands latched onto Tasha's wrist and wrapped tightly around the skin, before pulling her hand harshly away a few inches. Using the magnetic anchor point Scott quickly scrambled to his feet and dragged his opponent along with him, trying to complete his plan before the startled girl could react. Stepping in close as he pulled the much taller woman most of the way to her feet he latched a second band around her other wrist, and several of the bands seemed to merge together to wrap around her waist and restrain her further. As Tasha struggled to free her hands Scott slid his left leg partly between Tasha's thighs, and genuinely prayed that the girl would later accept that this was a combat strategy and not him being some kind of pervert, and two final bands moved into position to tightly encircle the muscular healer's legs.

Tasha was taken completely off guard when she felt her hand pulled easily away from her grip on Scott's clothing, then more so when she felt herself pulled nearly to her feet. For a moment she thought that her opponent had actually somehow managed the physical strength to manage such feats, in spite of being a full foot shorter and probably more than a hundred pounds lighter than she was. When she saw the metal band snap around her second wrist and felt the pressure around her waist, she realized what the smaller man was actually doing. She had been a little disturbed to feel a light contact between her legs as Scott slid his own leg into position to secure her last two limbs, but she found she couldn't really fault him for the contact. After all, she'd watched a replay fight yesterday where an average looking hispanic girl had laid out a very large fire wielding black man by kicking him squarely in the junk after making her way unscathed through the flames. She did decide to try one last tactic though. "Bondage Scott? Before the first date? You definitely know how to show a girl a good time." She smiled at her opponent as he started and she felt a brief waver from her restraints, but in spite of her ceaseless pulling they still held her nearly motionless.

"Sorry Tasha, but I think you'd break me if we dated. Would you mind giving up so I don't have to start the torture portion of the bondage?" Tasha sighed at Scott's response. He was probably right.

"Okay, I give up, but you'd better buy me dinner after tying me up like that!"

"That's was the plan Tasha," Scott replied as the metal bands slipped off her easily and reformed to fit concealed under the small man's clothing. "The celebraters have to pay for all the commiserators at this lunch."




Beulah Abbot was literally vibrating with excitement as she waited for her opponent to arrive for her ranking challenge. The middle eastern girl had arrived almost half an hour early, unable to contain her excitement at the prospect of advancing in rank so quickly. Finally the designated time had arrived and her opponent entered the combat room. Alvera Batíz was slightly taller than the Israeli woman excitedly waiting for her arrival, but with a slightly less muscular build.

Without any words exchanged the display began its countdown as soon as both women were present, and Beulah fought to calm herself down as the match began. With a loud cracking sound she disappeared and reappeared behind her opponent, far enough away that she should have time to react to any surprises the hispanic girl had in store for her. Alvera simply whipped around as fast as she could, trying to keep the teleporter in her line of sight.

Beulah vanished again with another cracking sound, and Alvera spun again, expecting her opponent to appear behind her but instead was launched sideways as her suddenly airborne opponent landed a plummeting dropkick against her left shoulder and head before vanishing again to appear properly upright a few feet away. Alvera calmly stood, apparently completely undamaged by the vicious kick.

Beulah considered her opponent. Her reflexes were decent but not superhuman, she had been knocked easily off balance and to the ground by the force of the kick so it was unlikely that she was exceptionally strong. Beulah had known that the girl's durability was somehow enhanced as the only opponent she had beaten in the combat rankings was the extremely tall black male after walking unscathed through various blasts of fire he had projected at her. Apparently the hope that her ability merely negated non-physical attacks was at least partly in vain. As Alvera charged her Beulah stood her ground this time, and her extensive Krav Maga training allowed the teleporter to easily counter her opponent's volley of strikes and throw her to the ground in what should have been a debilitatingly painful joint lock.

Alvera smiled at the girl atop her as she simply started pushing herself to her feet, completely ignoring Beulah's attempts to finish the hold and dislocate her shoulder. The Israeli girl again teleported away as she realized that even with all her body weight behind the hold, her opponent with seemingly no physical enhancements simply was not suffering any harm from her attempt. Beulah considered her options as her opponent stalked towards her again with a somewhat vicious smile on her face. The shorter girl could definitely understand how that expression alone could probably win her opponent many fights as those she faced found their effort not able to harm her as she simply wore them down. I was really hoping that I could save this trick for later

Beulah ran quickly up to her opponent, close enough that she completely invaded any concept of personal space, before a loud cracking noise signaled another teleportation. Alvera was slightly disoriented as her opponent disappeared directly in front of her and found it hard to catch her breath for just a moment, but as she spun towards her opponent that had appeared directly behind her and just as close as where she had vanished from the girl vanished again. Appearing to her side for an instant before another crack indicated her departure. Alvera found herself growing dizzy as she was having trouble getting any air into her lungs as her opponent's movement became a blur of never ending cracking sounds and displaced movements.

After about two minutes of continuous teleporting, Beulah finally stopped to catch her own breath as her opponent fell to the ground, unconscious. It was not the most ceremonious of victories, but Beulah was more than happy with her improvement in rank. She felt that she had redeemed her stupidity during the initial combat rankings, and she could finally stop pretending that her phone was broken and actually speak with her parents again.

The middle eastern girl did remember to contact the healing center before anything else however, and waited for her opponent to awaken before she bid her farewell and offered an apology for any injuries she might have caused. Alvera seemed to laugh at the mention of injury, and informed Beulah that there would be no hard feelings from her, as long as Beulah could find some time later to explain exactly what the hell had happened. Beulah found that one condition perfectly acceptable.




Ben found himself slightly less excited than he had been the rest of the week as he faced off against his roommate's inhuman Shifted form. It had seemed like the greatest of fortune when the fourth ranked student hadn't challenged, and fifth had gone all the way for second, leaving Ben open to challenge the full three ranks forward and get in a match with his roommate. Ben had been unable to figure out all week why his roommate hadn't been similarly thrilled to find out which of the two was actually stronger. Now that he was facing the crystalline monstrosity that the slightly smaller Collin transformed into, he thought he might understand it a bit. One or both of the two men was going to be badly hurt by the time this was over. Living with someone you had to fight with might be more awkward over time than the muscular black youth had originally counted on.

Ben pushed his thoughts aside as he closed with Collin's shifted form. Lunging forward his first punch was blocked cleanly by the large obsidian black arm, and Ben winced. His roommate was incredibly solid. Taking a quick step back Ben shook out his hand. He would have to make sure he had a lot cleaner form for this match than he was used to if he didn't want to break his own hands trying to pummel through his opponent's incredibly dense 'skin.'

The two fighters exchanged blows several times, neither seeming to gain much of an advantage, but Ben felt every shot he landed as well as every shot landed against him. He couldn't even tell through the expressionless form in front of him if his opponent could even feel anything. Ben changed tactics and attempted to grapple his roommate instead. The two locked together for several long minutes before both finally pushed away. Their strength was far too evenly matched and neither was an accomplished enough wrestler to find an advantage. Ben steeled himself and rushed in, throwing everything he could behind each punch and attempting to overwhelm his opponent.

Collin adopted a defensive stance as Ben launched his reckless attack. For several blows, Ben thought his assault was working. He saw and felt the hairline cracks forming in his opponent's inhuman body, and redoubled his efforts to pound his way through to victory. He much more clearly heard and felt the next crack, as the bones in his wrist gave way to the onslaught he was forcing them to endure, and he dropped back with a strangled gasp of pain.

Ben looked down to examine his hands. Both sets of knuckles were torn apart and bleeding profusely, and his left hand hung limply as waves of pain radiated from his broken wrist. Looking at his opponent again Ben saw that Collin was waiting. Apparently his roommate was waiting to see if Ben intended to continue or surrender after dealing so much damage to himself. Ben sighed in resignation and raised his hands to signal surrender. After a few seconds Collin reverted to his normal shape.

"C'mon Ben, let's get you to the healers."

Ben allowed himself to be helped down the hallway as he was suddenly exhausted by his exertions. He'd pushed himself harder than he'd ever previously attempted, and he hadn't even come close to standing even with his roommate. He tried to push past the depression he felt with that realization. He had a lot of improving to do.




Erin returned to the table bearing another extra large specialty meat pizza. It was set carefully in front of her taller roommate, as all those gathered at the table looked on.

"I really don't see why we're doing this, I mean I shouldn't even be at a lunch for people who fought challenges today, I didn't fight in one," the tall girl with the long braid tried to protest as the platter was placed in front of her.

"Ames, we all just watched you devour half the food at our table and you didn't even realize you were doing it. No one got to fight you this week, so we want to challenge some of your other limits!" Erin's tone of voice managed to be simultaneously light hearted and absolutely adamant.

"I think the rest of us have already had our fill Amelia, please satisfy our curiosity on this matter?" Catalina was one of those celebrating her successful challenge against the smaller asian healer that morning. When a conflict essentially boiled down to two girls beating each other up it was amazing how much of an advantage five inches, thirty pounds, and the ability to read your opponent's mind added up to.

"It'll be something interesting to do before we've got to work on our projects at least." Susan was in the commiserating half of the luncheon, her challenge against the small Chinese girl with the elemental breath had not gone as well as she had hoped, though the relatively tall redhead had learned a great deal about her shifted form's endurance. Not in the manner she would normally choose to learn such things of course. She was glad that her group had invited her out to this little lunch party after her match had been over. She hadn't had a lot of opportunities to get to know other students in the HCP aside from her roommate, who had washed out, and now the three housemates she was staying with after one of their roommates had also likewise not made the grade hadn't yet fully warmed up to her.

Ty smiled encouragingly at the tall girl sitting behind the massive pizza. He was the other odd man out at the lunch today, having not participated in a challenge and with only a single student ranked below him, not the most likely of students to have to defend his spot either. "C'mon Ames, college is all about experimenting and finding limits!"

"With pizza?"

"With everything!" the whole table managed to chorus nearly in synch in response to Amelia's doubting tone.

"Alright, I'll eat the pizza, but if we go back to the townhouse and there are shackles on ANYTHING I will run screaming from the building and never look back."

"Scott should probably get home before us then," Erin's completely deadpanned response left most of the table laughing, and Amelia nearly choking on a slice of pizza. "Seriously, just ask Tasha. Our little friend here is apparently into some freaky shit."

Scott found himself blushing furiously, as did Tasha, as they were both drawn into the humor. Amelia apparently decided that the only way this was all going to end was once the pizza in front of her was gone. It was a massive 28" pizza piled with toppings. It smelled delicious. The incredibly skinny girl finished the entire thing in less than five minutes.

The joking had subsided at some point while Amelia had been inhaling the pizza at an inhuman pace. Everyone was genuinely shocked that she'd finished the whole thing after the amount of food she'd already devoured. Where the hell had she hidden all the food in her stick figure like frame?

"Seriously Ames, how the hell did you do that?" Scott was the first one at the table to find his voice.

"It was good, so I ate it. Why is everyone surprised, you all TOLD me to eat it!"

"Are you still hungry?" It was Ty that spoke this time.

"I'm never really hungry or not hungry really. I do get thirsty sometimes."

It was Catalina's voice that spoke next after another long pause. "We have a golden opportunity here I believe." there was a great deal of humor evident in her tone. "Texas is somewhat renowned for having a great many eating competitions. I think our friend would make a perfect ringer!" some more laughter sounded at her remark, but everyone at the table also found themselves agreeing completely with the idea. It was Amelia's completely innocent and disbelief filled tone that set the table into truly hysterical laughter.

"There's competitions for eating?"




"Are you awake my friend?" Ramón's voice showed a great deal of concern as he waited in the infirmary for his roommate to show signs of life. There was some stirring in response to his question so the large man continued. "You are quite lucky to be alive my friend, I am thinking that your match did not go quite as planned." The blonde man on the infirmary bed struggled to sit up, but an incredibly strong hand simply pushed him back onto the mattress until he ceased his attempt.

"That bitch should be expelled, she almost killed me." Gerard's voice was hoarse, and Ramón immediately provided a glass of water for him to soothe his throat with. "She broke my neck, didn't she?"

"Do you remember everything that happened at the end of your match?" the newcomer to the conversation, an older Indian man wearing a white doctor's coat entered the room as he spoke.

"I remember she distracted me, then I felt her arm on my neck and she said 'Gotcha,' then everything goes blank. She tried to kill me."

"Mr Carerra, you are going to be late for your own match if you don't leave soon, and after going through the trouble of challenging Ms Todd I doubt she would forgive someone sharing a portion of her own ability for tardiness." Dr Saxena waited until the large Mexican had departed before he turned back to Gerard.

"Mr Finne, that 'bitch,' as you have so wonderfully decided to name her, saved your life. She gained an advantage in your match which she used to apply a chokehold in order to incapacitate you. You attempted to blast your opponent away while she had your head isolated in a very solid grip. The force of your attack actually broke both of her legs and crushed three of your vertebrae." Gerard's eyes widened at the information. "In spite of her own substantial injuries your opponent, Ms Casse, realized that your neck had been broken and held your head perfectly isolated until I and several of my staff could arrive to put things right."

Gerard remained quiet for a long moment after the doctor had filled in the missing segment of his memory. He knew better than to suspect it was a lie, he could probably view the entire event in stunning HD from every angle if he didn't believe it had happened that way. Eventually he spoke again.

"Is it okay for me to get out of this bed now?" waiting for the doctor to nod he carefully stood, then drained the last of the water that Ramón had brought for him earlier. He started towards the door before stopping to turn to Dr Saxena again. "Is Erin still down here?"

"No Mr Finne, her injuries were not as life threatening and she departed to return topside a few hours ago."

"Thank you doctor," and with that Gerard strode out of the infirmary. Even if his opponent hadn't been present to hear him insult her, he felt he needed to apologize, and offer his thanks for being alive after he had done something so monumentally stupid.